Cities of Magick #1
Art by: Will Tempest
Written by: Jakob Free
Colors by: Brad Simpson
Lettered by: AndWorld Design
In the mid-21st century, Earth is caught in a massive energy nexus of unknown origin, wiping out half of humanity and all of its modern technology. Governments break down into small city-based factions all over the world. A hundred years later, a group of explorers and scientists discover how to harness the energy of the nexus and create “magick,” a new type of power source for a new age. The world of Cities of Magick exists inside the ruins of our present day. The husks of once great cities are now filled with jury-rigged, Rube Goldberg-esque magick contraptions providing power, water, food, entertainment. And the totems of the old world–your iPhones, your Nikes, your sports cars–are now devoid of power. Our hero, Lev, a self-proclaimed “old school cowboy,” believes that magick’s widespread use is the result of a society grown decadent. He yearns for the bygone days and wants to return to the old ways of electricity and digital technology. He’s a reverse-luddite, if you will. Cities of Magick is a future-fantasy story about the intersection of geography and magick. How do our needs and wants and desires manifest themselves in the architecture and infrastructure of a city fueled by willpower and imagination? And how do people like Lev fit into a world like that?
Cities of Magick is almost exactly the kind of comic I enjoy most. It may have some weaknesses, but what it does right most is the single thing that has kept me coming back to new comics after almost thirty years of reading. Cities of Magick explores age-old issues in a new and mostly-unique setting, and I enjoy exploring that unknown world with unknown rules. I can’t think of a better setting for this than a post-modern world dealing with the resurgence of actual magic.
As a first issue, the story does move a little slow as the world around the characters unfolds. We have no idea who any one is or how any thing works, so a lot of the issue is spent introducing us to the basics. It’s not exciting, but it is necessary. And while it may not be exciting, it can be fascinating. There’s not much action in two people standing still having a chat, but what they reveal to the reader can certainly hold their attention. Cities does that very well.
As for the problems, the storytelling is a bit on the nose, and the art is a little bland. The above-mentioned back and forth is great as an info dump, but it does feel wedged into the plot. There’s a bit of that throughout. And though I rarely complain about the actual panels in a book, the fact that almost every page is broken into six equal squares can wear on you fast. A little more variation would be welcome. And a little more detail in the characters and backgrounds would go a long way, as well. The art’s not bad, but for such a rich, magical world, it is a little mundane.
Still, I’m happy to have the series and I am left wanting more. The themes are timely and important, and Cities’ approach to them holds my attention well. There’s even a little peek of the possibilities to come at the end of the story, and I can’t wait to see some of the spells teased in action. Cities of Magick is a great little escape from the same old, same old. It’s a great combination of magic and technology, new problems and old.
Everything Old is New Again, Kinda..
Cities of Magick takes old problems into a new age and presents them in a unique manner. There are some problems with the storytelling, but the plot itself is interesting enough to keep me flipping pages.